The Innovation Works and Miller Center (IW+MC) Accelerator is a free, six-month program that helps social enterprise (SE) leaders in the Baltimore area hone in on key aspects of their business, develop a solid growth strategy that demonstrates increasing social impact, and plan for long-term financial sustainability. The Accelerator program is tailored to each participant to ensure they have the unique strategies and materials needed to sustainably grow and apply for the funding needed to expand capacity.
The program has a proven track record of helping SEs grow and maximize their impact in their neighborhoods and communities. Program participants are supported by mentors who help guide and connect enterprises with resources and networks of experienced professionals in Baltimore.
Benefits of the Accelerator program include:
The IW+MC Accelerator curriculum is focused on developing operational excellence, an actionable growth strategy, and investment readiness, which includes identifying a “justifiable ask” for their final pitch. The online content is delivered in a series of core module topics through short videos and slide decks, developed in partnership with Miller Center.
Enterprise leaders and their mentors spend roughly three weeks per module learning the content and completing relevant deliverables. The modules cover different aspects of running a mission-driven business to help entrepreneurs identify gaps in their model and create strategies to fill them.
The program is a critical milestone in Stage 4: GROW of IW’s five-stage enterprise development pipeline and facilitates participants delving deep into eight core social enterprise business modules.
Mentors are a signature feature of the Accelerator program and play a significant role in the success of program participants. Entrepreneurs are hand-matched with one local mentor from the IW Mentor Network and one global mentor from the Miller Center Mentor Network. The mentors work in tandem to provide guidance and context as the social entrepreneur delves into module lessons. Beyond these core mentors, an IW Program Manager is engaged to assist with any technical or logistical issues. Domain mentors, who are experts in their fields, are also available to participants as needed.
Social entrepreneurs (SEs) who complete the Accelerator walk away with a detailed, actionable plan for growth, a robust financial model tailored to their business, a funding plan with a “justifiable ask,” and a refined business plan and marketing materials.
The accelerator is currently IW’s latest-stage cohort based program, but IW remains committed to accompanying SEs for the long haul. IW supports graduates’ continued growth through a long term Enterprise Mentor, an experienced professional who deeply understands the enterprise and a champion of the business. These mentors serve as thought partners and sounding boards as graduates navigate more advanced stages of social entrepreneurship.
Beyond this longterm mentor support, IW’s diverse and growing alumni SE community is thriving and actively engaged. IW fosters peer-to-peer learning opportunities and community-building amongst SEs throughout and beyond the development pipeline.
Graduates also have two additional opportunities:
Accelerator participants are Baltimore-based SEs who are equally committed to making a positive social impact in their community AND running a financially sustainable business. Selected participants generally have established business operations for at least a year and possess essential business materials that demonstrate their success and viability, including key performance indicators (traditional business and social impact metrics), written description of a business plan (including marketing materials), and a record of financial history and future financial projections with a specifically defined plan for growth.
In addition, participants must have a six-month runway of operating capital and leadership capacity. In other words, the business must be in a position to sustain itself financially for the duration of the program and the entrepreneur must have the support needed to step back from day-to-day operations to spend time working ON the business, rather than IN the business.
Participants must have a pre-existing relationship with Innovation Works to be considered. IW evaluates the SEs within the third stage (CREATE) of the IW development pipeline, taking into account mentor feedback and submitted deliverables from previous programs and work sessions. The cohort generally includes SEs who have recently gone through the three day Boost workshop, but any SEs in the IW pipeline who meet the above eligibility criteria could be considered. Cohort size may vary, but we aim for about 10 SEs per session.
Interested in participating? Apply to join the IW pipeline to tap into all of IW’s support resources, including future IW+MC Accelerators.